You are currently browsing the blogging about blogging is a sin category

“Overly talky” versus a book that had Chris Claremont writing for it.

§ May 16th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, dc comics, marvel § 9 Comments

So back in Ye Olden Dayes of this blog, when I wrote about specific comics, all I had to do was dip into the Vast Mikester Comic Archives and pull out a copy of the book I wanted to discuss. “Ah, yes, fetch me that copy of Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #106, would you Jeeves, that’s a good chap,” as I reclined into my Marc Newson Lockheed Lounge Chair, quill in hand, ready to pen the latest enthralling installment of Progressive Fancypants dot com.

Well, that changed when all thoughts of fancypantsness went out the window as I opened up my own comic book store, and the Vast Mikester Comic Archives became The Dismal Dregs once I gave over my personal stock to shop stock. Now when I want to discuss a particular book, it’s either one that I came across at my store, one I can pull images from DCUniverseInfinite.com, or I can bum pics off a pal, usually Bully.

It’s particularly frustrating when the books I want to discuss are definitely ones I bought off the stands at the time of release, and long since given up to the shop, such as 1985’s Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men from Marvel Comics:

and Heroes Against Hunger from DC Comics:


Produced during that time pop culture remembered that Africa was having some problems, these were fundraising comics to aid the fight against starvation. Honestly, I don’t know how much money was raised by these projects, given each had a price tag of $1.50, so the wholesale price was about half that (unless there was a different discount structure in place for these particular books, which is possible), and unless those distributors also donated their share of the profits…well, that wasn’t much per issue going to charity. It’s a little better once you multiply that portion of the cover price by however many copies were sold to retailers (for which I have no info, so I’m gonna make the rough estimate of about 300,000 for the X-Men book, and half that for the DC one), then maybe you’re talking some real money. Maybe not “We Are the World” money, but not nuthin’, either.

I’m sure some enterprising person out there already crunched all those numbers and I’ll hear about it shortly, but that would take some kind of “internet search engine” to locate something like that. I’ll have to ask my man Jeeves to look into it. Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

No, what I’m here to talk about is the impact these books had on me, and possibly also on cultural awareness overall (as far as “comic book fandom cultural awareness” goes on something like this). And all this came about because I was processing a collection the other day that had a copy of the Marvel benefit book. That in itself isn’t terribly unusual…copies of this title show up in collections all the time, far more frequently than the DC counterpart, which is why I presumed earlier the vast disparity in printruns.

But whenever I get a copy, I poke through it and marvel (so to speak) at the creative teams they put together for the short vignettes within…usually only two or three pages long by a specific creative team. There is a bare thread of a storyline connecting everything, but the real meat are the small character bits each short provides, as the various X-Men face personal, emotional challenges. Harlan Ellison and Frank Miller presents Wolverine rising above his savage instincts, Chris Claremont and Brian Bolland have Storm confronting her various self-images, Stephen King(!) and Bernie Wrightson have Kitty face off against…well, hunger (there’s more to it than that, didn’t flip through it agin to refresh my memory, but boy that “Good God, let’s eat!” still sticks with me). And then there’s this, which I took an askew shot of at the shop to post onto Twitter:


…contrasting Magneto’s Holocaust survivor background with the future he may bring about with his battle for mutant superiority over the common folk. I mean, Hitler shows up on this page to praise Magneto, it ain’t exactly subtle. It’s Alan Moore in a very rare bit of Marvel work (his only new post-UK work for the company, I believe), drawn by the underground comix legend Richard Corben. Not shown (except a bit in the last panel of that page there) are the great rotting corpses that only Corben could create. It may very well be one of my favorite bits of X-Men comics.

Here’s the thing about not having these comics readily accessible in my collection any more. I have to depend on my memories of having read the books. Yes, I said I get the Marvel book in collections all the time, but I’m not spending time to flip through each copy that shows up. It was only the other day where I thought “you know what’s good? this Moore/Corben sequence” and decided to take a picture of it so I could say so on the Twitterers. Many of the images and events of this comic stick in my mind clearly, nearly 40 years after I first saw them. That emaciated Kitty Pryde, Wolverine standing triumphant, Storm in her various guises, a guilt-ridden Magneto. I don’t remember a whole lot else from the comic, but those have been living in my brain a very long time.

Now let’s take the DC book. Similar in structure to the Marvel comic, it’s made up of short 2-3 page sequences each by a different creative team, strung together into a semblance of a story. I have two primary memories of this comic, which I definitely bought and read at the time.

The first memory is of a review I read of it in, well, probably has to be Amazing Heroes. Basically the complained about the inconsistency of the writing, specifically citing that Lex Luthor’s characterization would change from segment to segment. An inherent problem, I suppose, in having this many writing cooks in the kitchen.

The other memory was of Luthor weeping when put face to face with starving people. I mentioned that scene online, and it was Twitter pal BobH to the rescue, snapping a pic of that very moment:


As BobH pointed out, that’s by Barry Windsor-Smith and Catherine Jones, an impressive art team by any measure. He also mentions Bernie Wrightson inked by Mike Kaluta (wow!) and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez inked by Jerry Ordway (another shot from BobH):


A look at the credits shows lots of other impressive (and weird) combos. I mean, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson! Curt Swan inked by John Byrne! Walt Simonson inked by Steve Leialoha! (That one’s gotta be weird!) C’mon, Kirby is in this! There’s a lot of what should be some spectacular work in here.

I just don’t remember any of it. Nothing from the book stuck, except that one image of Luthor. (Which I liked, by the way…I always preferred the “yes he’s a bad guy but not a complete monster” pre-Crisis Luthor to the nigh-irredeemable post-Crisis Luthor we’d get only a couple of years after this.) Otherwise my mental image of the book was that it was…cluttered and cramped, overly talky and not as visually memorable or striking as the X-Men comic. The DC one even had its own Big Name Horror Writer in Robert Bloch, for a sequence also drawn by Wrightson, and hand-to-God I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it.

Not to say the X-Men book totally ruled and the DC one drooled or anything. The former had a bit by Mike Baron/Steve Rude, a creative team I normally like, which I looked at briefly in the copy I had at the store and gosh darn if I could tell what was going on. And frankly the DC book sounds a lot better than I remember, but I still feel like it does just sound that way, that something in the execution made it a less memorable offering that the Marvel release.

Lot of words to throw at you to essentially say “I remember one book more fondly than the other” but this is just one of those things I go through as an older fan who’s had a lot of comics pass through my hands. Interesting in that both Jim Starlin and Wrightson were involved in creating the storylines for both.

Anyway, I put this here so that I can maybe get some feedback on the books, about what I’m not remembering, about what was outstanding about the DC book that should be remembered as well as those top-flight stories from the Marvel comic. But I have to be honest, it’s gonna be hard to beat that Magneto strip.

EDIT: Everything old is new again! I just reminded myself that I wrote about these books on the site before, because of course I have! Here I am talking about the Marvel one, and here’s DC…more images (and some linkrot) for your perusal!

Blogging about Free Comic Book Day is a sin.

§ May 13th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, free comic book day § 5 Comments

A few follow-up Free Comic Book Day questions:

Daniel T crosses over with

“I’m curious about one of the freebies: how excited are people for Dark Crisis?”

That…is hard for me to judge, simply because I was inside working the register while all the free comics were outside getting snapped up by the madding crowds. While I had given away nearly every copy, I can’t say that was more out of interest in the Dark Crisis event itself or simply because it was The Free Mainline Superhero DC Freebie and therefore a top target of FCBD-ers.

I haven’t heard a lot of in-store interest in the comic in general, aside from inquiries into the variant covers. Maybe it’ll be like my experience with the new Flashpoint Beyond event thingie, where I didn’t have a lot of folks asking about it up front, but once it hit the stands then the demand showed up. Or maybe people are just tired with Big Deal Comics with “Crisis” in the title, who knows?

• • •

John Maurer had maur to say

“Isn’t the Avengers/X-Men FCBD book the one that has the speculators drooling because it is the first appearance of Blade’s daughter or some such character? THAT MISTAKE WILL MAKE YOU RICH, MIKE!*

“* OK, probably not, but you might could get like $5-10 each if Disney ever brings the character into the MCU.”

You know, I have no idea what’s going on in that Avengers/X-Men/Eternals thing. Lemme look at the eBays.

[TEMPUS FUGIT]

Okay, I looked at eBay long enough for the gorge to rise, and sure ’nuff that very freebie is being sold for between a relatively reasonable one dollar up to at least $10. And yes, it’s because it introduces Blade’s daughter. I haven’t had anyone come in after the fact specifically requesting that issue, so I don’t know if the news hasn’t filtered down to my area yet (unlikely) or that the local investors have looked at that item and found it not worth the trouble (more likely). Or many they snapped up stacks of them off the front tables when nobody was looking.

I did a more general search on the 2022 FCBD offerings over on eBay and most things appears to be offered for between $2 to $5 bucks. One person was selling Dark Crisis for $6. Seems pretty mellow this year…usually there’s at least one comic that’s the Speculator’s Choice, but aside from folks pushing that X/Av/Et book hard, nothing’s really standing out.

• • •

Randal Yard sticks it to me with

“Don’t think you need to bother putting Your Pal Dorian’s link up there anymore…in fact, woof, that sidebar of links really needs some TLC. Is it just you and Neil chugging along?”

Yeah, I know, I know, I need to, at least, update some of those links to more current, active locations for some of those folks (like maybe their Twitter feeds). That takes a little bit of time, which I’ve been short on a bit lately. And if you think that sidebar is bad, The Deity of Your Choice help you if you ever poke in on my links page.

In pal Dorian’s case, I was just linking his name to his site pretty much automatically, even though he hadn’t updated in a while. And I just noticed, looking now, that it’s currently going to a domain parking page. I swear I checked not long ago and it was still going to his dormant, but still present, website. At one point I talked with Dor about taking over hosting an archived version of his site on my webspace, but we ran into a difficulty or two trying to move files around and we both ended up just getting to busy to deal with it otherwise. Eep, I’ll have to ask him what we can do about this.

But yes, my sidebar and my links page are both graveyards of dormant or straight-up dead sites, which, y’know, Such Is The Internet. I feel sad about some of those losses, certainly, as I got on well with a number of them. Many of those folks started about the same time as me, or somewhat before, in the Comicsweblogosphere, but I suppose it’s a lot to ask of someone to still be posting about comic books on their World Wide Website nearly twenty years on, like some weirdos.

There are still a few blogs left standing, like Neilalien (whom you mentioned) and Bully the Little Stuffed Bull (slight format change, but still as stuffed and little as ever). Johanna is still plugging along as well. And there are others, as well as newer blogs that have come along.

A good place to look at what comic blogs are still active is the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron…plenty of folks still “blogging” about “comics,” all of whom guaranteed to be confirmed social deviants. Otherwise, why would they do it? WHYYYY

• • •

Andrew Davison schools me with

“Any pics of happy kids?”

Look, no kid will ever be happier at Free Comic Book Day that the one pictured at the top of this post on the store website from a few years back. I mean, that’s just science.

But like I said earlier, I was at the register most of the day, and didn’t get a chance to take pics. My dad took a couple, like this shot of inside the store:


As you can see, young folks were in evidence, and I can assure you I saw plenty throughout the day.

• • •

Well, that’s that for this year…I mean, there weren’t any “but what good does FCBD do?” or “don’t you lose money?” questions this time ’round (answers: plenty and nope, in that order, please refer to all my previous posts), but that’ll do. Thanks for your interest in the subject, and we’ll see you next week!

It was either that or “Signie.”

§ March 16th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, retailing § 2 Comments

It’s because the atomic number of iodine is 53.

Anyway, about Monday’s post…the plan was to respond to some of your comments from a couple of weeks ago, long delayed because of early morning doctor appointments disrupting my late evening blogging habits. However, I got caught up with looking into that whole Saturday Night Live thing I decided to make investigating that the whole post. Of course, being weeks after the fact, the matter had already been long settled and I’d come to the wrong conclusion anyway, so there you go.

I did get in a brief anecdote about my previous place of employment helping out a local theater production, as well as ending the post with a fairly solid gag, so it wasn’t all in vain!

Speaking of the previous place etc., Eric had this question about the old sign I procured from there:

“Did the dragon have a name?”

Here’s a better pic of the dragon from the sign:

And no, to the best of my knowledge the dragon had no name. Which is weird because we sure liked putting names on things at the store. At one point former coworker Rob had brought in a skull sculpture (a skullpture?) that he’d just kept on a shelf behind the counter. The skull was dubbed “Sid,” and eventually, when we got a second somewhat smaller skull from parts unknown (or forgotten), it was called, of course, “Marty.” And there were other things around the shop we named…most notably, the old wooded baseball bat Ralph kept behind the counter that was referred to as “The Peacemaker.” (No relation.)

But alas, our painted dragon friend lacked a sobriquet. Well, the sign’s mine now, so I shall dub…her, let’s say she’s a her, “Jennifer,” for no good reason I could adequately explain.

And adrian hunter sez about the sign

“I love how signage like this always ends with ‘science fiction.’ Science Fiction…what? Double-Feature? Books? videos? games? all the above? I don’t know about the rest of the world, although from this sign it seems endemic but in CT it happens a lot. It’s just amusing to me.”

Ralph (if you recall from my recap of his retail history) had been in a shop up in Santa Barbara that specialized in science fiction books and comic books. Ralph was the one in charge of the sci-fi books, as that had been, and still is, a particular interest of his (along with comics, of course). So, when he opened up his own shop it was probably no surprise that he wanted to emphasize the “science fiction” part of the business, especially with all the Star Warsing and Star Trekking going on.

And to your question of “science fiction what,” the answer is “yes.” Books, videos (eventually) games, even comics sometimes. And “double feature” of sorts…Ralph had plenty of Ace doubles.

But seriously, “science fiction” is a good, overall eye-catching term to grab people where things like “comic books” and “baseball cards” might not. Come to think of it, I should probably replace that “SPECULATIVE EVOLUTIONARY DIESELPUNK” painted in the window with “SCIENCE FICTION” instead. Might get more positive attention.

Where Buck Rogers is now.

§ September 8th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, television § 6 Comments


Sorry for the extended interruption…one of the downsides of being at the shop all week, if that’s not a downside in its own right, is that many other chores and miscellaneous life stuff have to be done around that particular responsibility, which, depending on the activity, means “at night, after work.” Usually I can balance my free blogging time with whatever other responsibilities I have, but this time we had a lot of stuff that needed to be done in a short time frame, so my nights have been otherwise occupied.

Now I think the current state of emergency is over, though some follow-up is possible. But, in the meantime, I think the site will be back on whatever passes for its regular schedule. Thanks for sticking around, pals.

So what exactly have I been doing relaxation and fun over the last couple of weeks, when I wasn’t doing the work I’d been doing? Why, watching the classic 1979-81 TV sci-fi adventure Buck Rogers in the 25th Century starring Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, and Mel Blanc, of course.

I happened to be flipping through the selections on the free streaming app Tubi and spotted both that show and the original Battlestar Galactica amongst its programming. I watched a little of BG, but I feel like I’ve seen plenty of BG in reruns and such over the decades. However, BR existed in my head mostly as vague memories from childhood, save for the opening narration and theme music which I’ve always quite liked:


(NOTE: that’s the second season opener, with a different narrator. Music’s still good, though.)

It’s perfectly affable fun, which I’d been tweeting about lately. Buck as a “man-out-of-time” is mostly restricted to his using modern informal English and idioms that 25th century people don’t grok. But there are lots of fun guest-stars (Frank Gorshin! Markie Post! Peter Graves! Buster Crabbe! Cesar Romero! HENRY FREAKIN’ SILVA!) and completely misleading lurid titles (“Planet of the Slave Girls,” starring Jack Palance) and all the gals are squeezed into unforgiving spandex (and at least one gal in an outfit so revealing I caught an extra checking her out briefly)…it’s all so much of its time, but still a lot of fun to watch. Lots of shots set in modern factories and at least one parking garage, it looked like, but you know, that’s all fine.

And look, I haven’t even watched the episodes with Gary Coleman yet. How can those not be great?

I know many special effects, sound effects, and even props were shared between this show and Battlestar Galactica (hello, same control stick in Galactica‘s Vipers showing up in the Buck Rogers ships) which, again, whatever. But I’ll tell you, the control stick thing bothered me back then, and it still bothers me now. Unless they were leading up to the eventual Buck Rogers/Battlestar Galactica crossover, in which case all is forgiven.

So I’m only partway into the first season, and I know Hawk is awaiting me in Season 2 (I actually remember the Starlog cover he was on far more clearly than anything in the show itself). Thus, no spoilers, please.

Updated!

§ July 16th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin Comments Off on Updated!

Added the completed cover to my post about Wanted: The Rodent!

I’ve had a long day.

§ June 16th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, how the sausage is made, self-promotion § 2 Comments

So Tuesday took a lot out of me at the shop today, and ended up getting home pretty late. As such, let me just cover a couple things:

Readers added some good information to Monday’s post in regards to variant interiors and repackaged remainders. I added a big ol’ addendum to that entry to reflect these updates, instead of doing a brand new post about it, as I’d prefer to keep this series…self-sufficient, I guess? So you find all the info on a particular variant on just the one page, instead of having to read updates over the next three or four posts. Anyway, I wrote a bit there so check it out.

Next, I wanted to remind folks that there’s a lively discussion regarding the Legion of Super-Heroes and its scattered continuity/publishing going on in the comments to this post. In this case I’ll likely do an update post on the topic addressing some of your thoughts.

Finally, don’t forget, for your #1 Source in Comic Staples Information please visit Does This Comic Have Staples? and bask in the enlightenment.

Imagine a comic company being worried that orders were too high today.*

§ April 21st, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, retailing, variant covers § 1 Comment

So for you Progressive Ruin Early Morning Crew, who catch the latest entries as they’re posted, either before you go to bed or as you have your breakfast and cup of coffee, or I guess pretty much any time of day depending on what part of the world you live in, you may wish to revisit the previous post. Look for the “EDIT:” dropped in there and read the rest of the paragraph that follows, which will be New to You.

Basically what happened is, while I was present in comics retail at the time, I had clearly forgotten the details around the release of Legends of the Dark Knight #1 and its variety of cover colors. I made assumptions about DC trying to boost order numbers up with variants, which is almost exactly what they didn’t do. They were actually worried that too many copies of LODK1 were ordered, and added the covers after the fact to improve sales. Go back to that post and its comments and you’ll see links and the helpful folks who nudged Old Man Mike and said “uh, hey, you got your facts a little off.” To them, I am grateful.

Ultimately, the overall point still stands, I think, that publishers realize the power of variant covers to encourage multiple purchases of essentially the same product to individuals. Even if, in the case of LODK1, this wasn’t the plan from the get-go.

Anyway, instead of just tacking on an addendum to the post saying “duh, I was wrong, here’s what happened” as I was normally do, I tossed out the offending passage and replaced it with corrected info. I feel a little funny about that, like I’m cheating or hiding my shame or something, but I do plan on continuing my series on variant covers and I don’t want the first installment to have a big ol’ screw up in it. But again, thanks to everyone for jumping in and pulling my foot out of my mouth…everyone please go and check out the comments section for that post for the usual wonderful contributions from my readers.

In actual comic book news, there’s this thing:


…which, surprise, turned out to the big hit of the week so far, and it’s only Tuesday. And it sounds like a lot of stores out there were caught by surprise, given a story or two I’ve seen online about retailers being upset about not being told this might sell well. …To be fair, in this market, one should never take a publisher’s word that a comic is going to sell well. Order what you’re comfortable with, order more if you need more, and if you need to get second printings, get those. Frankly, if publishers want a retailer to order extra piles of their comics on their word, they can make them returnable.

There are plenty of times when I wished I ordered more copies of something, but just as many, if not more, times when I wished I’d ordered less. With Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1…well, as someone who still thinks the original Nintendo is one of those “newfangled gaming systems,” even I am aware that Fortnite is a Big Deal. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll translate to comic sales…there have been plenty of properties that were Big Deals in the real world, but didn’t exactly drag that audience into comic book stores once their tie-in funnybooks showed up. Sometimes they do, sure (Firefly is still doing okay, um, y’know, considering), but a lot of times these licensed books can sell worse that other comics on the shelves.

This time, though, I took a chance and ordered a…reasonable number of copies for my store, and it worked out pretty well so far! Getting lots of calls for the book, plenty of new faces walking in the door to get copies, and at least for Tuesday’s traffic, I had enough to go around! Now once I open Wednesday, my remaining copies will likely fly out the door right quick.

All things considered I wish I’d ordered double the number of copies, and maybe if you ask me by the weekend I might say I wish I ordered four times the number. What is nice about all this is the fact that the customers coming in for copies of the Fortnite comic all seem to be genuinely interested in the game, and not just dudes looking to flip the book on eBay. And boy, it seems to be selling for a pretty penny on said eBays. …Which is another clue that the comic was desperately underordered. Not being in initial solicitations and being offered just in the Final Order Cutoff listings may not have helped.

I’m going to enjoy this while I can, as it’s always good to have a comic that will get new faces in the shop. I know that perhaps a lot of them just want the digital codes for the game sealed inside that polybag, but look, comics retailers can’t be choosers.
 
 

* I mean, aside from that business with Eniac #1.

Honestly, it’s harder to type “5YL” than it is just to type out “Five Years Later.”

§ February 12th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, legion of super-heroes § 8 Comments

So anyway, I’d meant to have a post up Wednesday, and then tried to have it up for Thursday, and in fact I actually had most of it written on Wednesday, but I was just too tired to put finishing touches on it and I wasn’t able to tell through my sleepiness if it all made sense or not. Thus, a rare moment of “quality control” on this site. No need to thank me.

I’ll probably revise and post what was completed at some point so all that “hard” “work” doesn’t go to waste. But in the meantime, let’s talk about Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes.

Longtime reader Wayne brought it up in his comment (responding to my post where I mentioned I was going through that latest volume of Legion reprints), and y’all continued the discussion on the pros and cons of that revision to our favorite 30th century heroes.

Wayne asks of the Five Year Later (or 5YL, as I think it was popularly known by) storyline “anyone else remember that run?” and boy howdy sure I do. I…probably implied a reference to it here in this overall post about the Legion of Super-Heroes Vs. Rebootery, in that it was one of many attempts at revitalizing/restarting the Legion in order to expand the audience beyond the readers who would buy Legion comics regardless. 5YL was not a reboot as such, but a rejiggering of the concept designed to shake things up, re-engage readers, and also try to clean up a continuity glitch or three, while technically maintaining a continuity of character and plot developments started so many decades ago in the Legion’s first appearance in Adventure #247.

In you’re not familiar, and in case you haven’t guessed from me repeatedly using “5YL,” with the new first issue in 1989, the Legion storyline jumps ahead five years to a universe where the Legion is scattered, everything’s in turmoil, all the character’s call each other by their first names instead of their codenames, and there are mysteries within intrigues within conspiracies, all told in a deliberately obfuscatory manner.

But, y’know, is it any good?

It feels silly to write out anything about this stretch of Legion when pal Andrew knocked it out of the moopsball ring with this analysis. Just kinda picture me nodding my head next to pretty much every sentence in that essay. In short, this phase of the Legion devoted a lot of time to tearing up the scripts and smashing the scenery of What Had Come Before,a propcess that eventually brought us to the point of, as Andrew says, requiring the start-from-scratch afforded by a reboot.

“Yes, yes, Mike, but is it good?”

I started reading the Legion in the early ’80s, so I came to it a little later than the “Long Live the Legion”/APA-type fans who arose out of ’60s and ’70s fandom who opined on Legion goings-on in fanzines and whatnot. Legion was noted for its loyal fanbase, surely inspired (in part if not in whole) by the soap opera aspects borne by the large and varied cast. But I jumped in with both feet, followed the title, then the two titles once the “hardcover/softcover” publishing plan (in short: DC published a version of Legion for comic shops, reprinted a year later for newsstands, but before the reprints started the newsstand version also contained new stories).

Plus I read stories in DC’s digest reprints, and picked up back issues, and that sort of thing, so I was reasonably well versed in the franchise by the time that first “direct-sales-only” comic shop series came to its end.

“Mike….”

Okay, okay, I happened to really like the “Five Year Later” relaunch. It felt…it felt almost like a superhero version of Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!…I mean, not in the sexy-naughty-times sort of way, but in that the comic was, as I said before, deliberately obfuscatory. It wasn’t bad storytelling, leaving out important plot points or taking unnecessary short cuts or leaving the reader in the dark for no good reason. The information was there, sometimes between the lines, making it a challenging read, but challenging in a good way. You’d reread each issue a time or three making sure you got what you were supposed to get. It felt…adult, again not in the dirty-filthy sense but in the “we expect you to bring some interpretative abilities to this, it ain’t no kid’s book.” And look, I was, what, 20 when this was coming out? It was rewarding to read a book that made you feel smart for getting it.

Not to say some of the criticisms some of you related in my comments section weren’t valid. Yes, calling everyone by their real first names could be confusing unless you were already fully immersed in all this nonsense prior to the launch of this series. I could read stuff in the comics written in the Interlac alphabet without referring back to the key they published in the early 300s, keeping Reep, Jo, Brin and Imra straight wasn’t going to be a problem.

And sometimes the artistic choices didn’t help either. Lots of characters in shadow, the occasional super close-up of whoever the heck it’s supposed to be…it added a layer of confusion to a series that was already not open to casual reading.

The storytelling gradually switched back over to a more traditional form as the series wore on, though the focus continued on breaking the milieu in ways that couldn’t be rolled back (refer back to Andrew’s post for a cataloging of some of these events). And, you know, it was fine reading it at the time…it was suitably dramatic, and surprisingly permanent, because back then you didn’t realize “shutting it all down and starting anew” was an option on the table. The series had survived Crisis on Infinite Earths, riding out the changes wrought by that series directly affecting Legion’s underpinnings. (One of which, the removal of Superboy, was one of the continuity fixes installed in those early 5YL issues.) If it could make it through that linewide event, nothing could stop the Legion!

Well, except sales, and a back-pedaling on the whole “5YL” concept, by introducing what appeared to be the younger, more innocent version of the Legion, coexisting with the older, wiser, and occasionally embittered post-5YL team. Let’s be clear…it was still entertaining, I thought, and something of a compelling mystery…where did these younger Legionnaires come from? But it was still a splintering of the concept, asking you to maintain your loyalties and devotion to the ongoing character developments with two versions of the same characters. It was one of those bendings of the concept that was interesting at the time, but didn’t realize what it had broken.

Eventually things came to a head and, as I talked about before, DC used their Zero Hour event as an opportunity to wipe that slate clean and start again. And I already went into detail in that post why that was a bad idea, so I won’t repeat it all here.

But yes, I liked “Five Years Later.” We can look at it from a publishing standpoint and say “ooh, maybe DC shouldn’t have done that” (see also Crisis on Infinite Earths), but as a story just in and of itself, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not knowing what to expect in each issue, knowing nothing was necessarily sacred, was the kind of excitement one didn’t often get in long-running comic book franchises. But maybe there’s a reason we don’t get that in long-running comic franchises, given the Legion’s difficulty in maintaining a significant presence in the decades since.

No, it wasn’t me (though I admit the circumstantial evidence of my birthday is a tad damning). Also, yes, that’s a Morrison reference.

§ July 3rd, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 7 Comments

Okay, might as well make this a week of “Mike Crawls Up His Own Bottom” posts, so let me try to wrap it all up here with this posty-post.

Nate asked in the comments of my last post:

“I ask this every time someone reminisces about the golden age of comics blogging, but does anyone have a clue as to what happened to Dick Hyacinth of ‘Savage Critics’ and ‘Dick Hates Your Blog?’ He was a regular presence and then, poof, he was gone…”

What Age of Comics Blogging are we in now? The Just Barely Hanging In There Age, I’m presuming. Anyway, for those of you who missed it, Dick Hyacinth was a relatively acerbic comics blogger who popped up in 2007, cranked out a lotta posts for a couple of years, then vanished mysteriously on, of all dates, my birthday in 2009. He was…not a fan of what comics blogs were doing, as you can probably judge by the title of his site, and he wasn’t shy about saying so, at a time when most of us were generally playing nice with each other. I know a friend or two got into it with him over one thing or another. Aside from that, some of his comics criticism and discussion of the industry was worth reading, I think, and when going back over his blog I found myself looking at more than one thing he wrote and thinking “…yeah, he had a point.” I know he brought me up once or twice but was actually fairly complimentary, so I guess he didn’t hate every blog.

It does seem just a little strange that he up and quit without any notice, but only a little. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, uncommon for bloggers to have a strong start then dry up with no warning. What’s unusual here is that he also had a side gig writing reviews for another site, so the thinking is that he was a little more established than someone just blogging on a whim. But, hey, people burn out, or have other responsibilities that take precedence (I believe he mentioned a few times that he had a kid, or maybe kids) so there you go.

As to the person behind the pseudonym…I kinda think maybe he was another blogger or columnist or whathaveyou deciding to be a bit more blunt under an assumed name to avoid blowback. Or he was just an observer of what was going on in the comicsweblogosphere and decided “THESE PEOPLE NEED ME.” I mean, who knows. I don’t suppose it really matters now, eleven years on.

I’ll probably go through and revisit some of his entries at some point, and try to remember just why exactly he got up all our noses at the time. I know then I was bothered by some of what he’d said, but also, as I said back in Monday’s post, I’m not quite as uptight about this sort of thing. Could be the worst I’ll think looking back at his work is “boy, he’s really playing up his schtick here” and wonder why we were all so angry with him in the first place. Or I will get reminded and become angry all over again. I’M A JUMBLE OF RAGING EMOTIONS

Talking about this reminded me of one guy, years ago…a comics columnist of some sort who for whatever reason decided to point out that I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was. At the time I posted a response (not linking to the article, which is probably long gone anyway, along with its author) where I essentially said “hey, fine, everybody has a different sense of what’s funny, it’s okay if he doesn’t like me,” when what I should have said was “FUCK YOU, I’M HILARIOUS” but l’esprit d’escalier and all that.

And then there was that one guy who took to the message boards to complain about me and pal Dorian about being a couple of real jerks because, as far as we were able to determine, we didn’t like a comic he liked, I think? Also, same dude had me put together a sizable mail order for him then stiffed me on payment. But now I’m just listing grievances. Don’t worry, everyone, I’m too old and creaky to seek my bloody vengeance on anyone. I’ll just write satirical poems about them in my newsletter.

And the rest of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE, if you remember what that is.

§ July 1st, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, eyeball § 3 Comments

My apologies for missing the first part of the week…I’m still undergoing some eye issues, which rose up over the weekend. I’m okay right now, but it’s very likely more signiciant treatment is coming in the future to correct some of the ongoing issues I’ve had for the last year or two. I ask your patience and the patience for my customers as well as I deal with this. Don’t worry, everything will be fine! Just have a few more things to do in order to get everything fixed.

Anyway, I want to add a couple of notes to the last way-too-long post on Your Pal Mike’s Blogging History:

First, I neglected to mention Alan David Doane as one of the foundational bloggers of the very early Aughts, and he’s written about what he’s up to in regards to the whole funnybook thing. Alan has always been very supportive of Progressive Ruin, and one of my favorite moments early on is when he made his list of Favorite Things About Comics and my dumb site was on his list. I’ve since worked with Alan on a few of his online projects which was a great deal of fun, and hopefully we’ll work together on something in the future.

SECRET FUN FACT: before I was menacing the world on the World Wide Web, and long before we knew each other, Alan once mail ordered some comics from my previous place of employment, which I personally packaged up and shipped.

Another point I should have mentioned was how the Comics Journal’s linkblog Journalista was very important in driving traffic to this site early on. Curator Dirk Deppey was very generous with the ProgRuin links, even saying about me (in a quote I preserved on my linkrot-enhanced About page):

“…Definitely one of the better new comics bloggers to emerge so far this year.”

This was of course well before my slow decline into this shadow of a man I am now, but I always appreciated those kind words. Particularly coming from a representative of The Comics Journal, a magazine I’d long read and respected.

I believe i may have pal Ian Brill to blame for bringing me to his attention, as he’d often bring me up in the ol’ TCJ message boards. So really, the blame’s probably all on him.

One person I’m especially remiss in not mentioning is my good friend and former coworker pal Dorian. Hours of just chatting about comics at the shop while we worked is probably a significant part of why we both ended up in comics blogging in the first place. A lot of our content was generated by trying to make each other laugh, and we often collaborated on material, not the least of which was “Doctor Doom’s Top Ten Euphemisms for Sex.”

Now Dor had to curtail his blogging mostly due to work stuff, but he’s still around, he’s still my pal, and I have to admit a lot of what I write has “I wonder what Dorian will think of this?”

The reason I call him “Pal Dorian?” Early on, before Dorian had his own blog, I’d often bring him up on my site, because, as I’d mentioned, much of the content here would come from our interactions. And rather than explain every time who Dorian was whenever I brought him up, I just called him “Pal” and figured that would get the point across. I’ve since used “Pal” for most of my real world friends.

One exception is Kid Chris, whom I started calling that and the nickname, like, just stuck. Everyone called him that. He’s now teaching English to kids in Korea and I’m pretty sure his students call him that.

Anyway, I owe lots of folks for the success (or “success”) of this site, including all my former coworkers and my old boss Ralph…other comics bloggers, my parents and my girlfriend Nora…y’know, all the people I generally bring up in my self-aggrandizing anniversary posts in December.

Okay, enough of all that. Back to actual comic books next time.

« Older Entries